Jump directly to the Content

Currents Shaping My Church: Has Your Church Jumped the Shark?

Leadership lessons from Fonzie's waterskiing feat.

Think of your favorite old TV show. Chances are, you can point to a time when it just seemed to go downhill. Barney Fife left Mayberry. Lucy and Ricky moved to the suburbs. Col. Blake's plane went down. Scrappy Doo usurped Scooby. The "Very Special Episode." All of these, according to Jon Hein, are examples of "jumping the shark."

Hein coined the phrase from an episode of Happy Days in which Fonzie, on water skis, jumped over a shark. That signaled the beginning of the show's creative decline.

Hein created a website that registers millions of votes on more than 2,000 television programs. Even the networks follow the site to gauge viewer perception of a show.

In his book Jump the Shark: When Good Things Go Bad (Dutton, 2002) Hein moves beyond TV and applies his biting analysis to music, sports, politics, and celebrities. "We all know that there's a moment," he writes, "a defining moment when something in pop culture has reached its peak. That instant when you know from now on, it will never ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

From Issue:Fall 2003: The Calling
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

From the Magazine
Christianity Today’s 2022 Book Awards
Christianity Today’s 2022 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
Editor's Pick
9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long
9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long
Even with recent divides in congregations, survey finds high levels of satisfaction among churchgoers.